It’s been a long while since we looked at Champagne, and with the sun promising to show its face and Wimbledon on its way, I thought the column should sparkle a wee bit. Champers has long been associated with Royalty and high society but it’s also for the great unwashed like me and dare I say you – but do beware because there’s an awful lot of duds out there in the world of fizz.

Champagne has become a term that people use when drinking any fizz, a bit like when we are going to hoover but we use a Shark or a Dyson. but it really is fur coat and no knickers to do that. There are some cracking champagnes for under £20 but there are also some mind-blowing wines if your wallet stretches a trifle.

Champagne’s main problem isn’t the price, though – it’s that it’s a bit over-complicated.

Personally I prefer the dry styles produced as non-vintage wines because the winemaker is able to adapt the blend from a number of different years to produce a consistently reliable wine. That said, some of the vintage wines can be corkers if you’re prepared to shell out a bit for them.

Prestige cuvees form the backbone of the industry and they tend to be blends of red and white grapes, but a style I’ve grown quite attached to of late are the Blanc de Blancs, which are produced entirely from the whites and retain a tad more bite and crispness to the palate. Blanc de Noir is made entirely from the red grapes Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, but to me they just taste fat and too squidgy to be serious champagnes. Other than rosé Champagnes (which are of course the only thing to drink if romance is in the air), the other main style are the sweet and medium sweet Champagnes, sec and demi sec respectively. But there we go, we’ve mentioned them!

Before I tell you about a massive surprise from one of the budget retailers, let me tell you how I first fell in love with Champagne. I love thrillers, and for years I satiated my appetite on Jack Higgins’ rogue hero Sean Dillon, the colourful Irish-born spy with a penchant for half bottles of Krug non vintage. I had to try it, and while it tends to be on the meatier side of the champagne styles, I loved it. The only problem with Krug is you need to sell your kidney to buy a case but hey ho, the good lord gave us two!

Anyway, if your budget doesn’t run to Krug, Bollinger or la Grande Dame, take a look at the latest rose from Aldi. Pip pip!


Henriot Blanc de Blanc: To describe this as stunningly refreshing wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration. It’s fruity, crisp and wonderfully clean on the palate. Best of all, this one comes with an assortment of Montezuma Truffles so what’s not to like? Richardson’s of Whitehaven £69.

Veuve Monsigny Rosé: I really wanted to hate this as Champagne at a budget price is generally as pleasant as connecting your tongue to electrodes but oh my, was I in for a shock. This multi-award winner has a light raspberry nose with crisp and very defined red berry fruits on the palate, and just wait until you see the price! Aldi £16.99.